A Reset to Civility

Fort Greene, Brooklyn © AK 2020

At 11:47 am on Saturday, November the 7th, I was clearing leaves in my front yard. It was an unusually warm day. I began to hear isolated howls and screams coming from down the street. My neighbor stepped on to his front porch with a frying pan and spoon and started banging and my wife came out running, jumping for joy.

It was over. The excruciating fives days had come to an end — for now. The knot in my stomach reseeded. The city that made Donald Trump, spontaneously erupted in celebration signaling an end to his divisive brand of politics and the corruption his family had come to stand for.

As I walked up the block the honking cars and people shouting at the top of their voices “F*** Donald Trump”, said it all.

An under-cover police car let off a throbbing siren. A city bus driver was all smiles as he honked. At the intersection there was drumming, clapping, howling, screaming and tears of joy. If there was no pandemic strangers would be embracing all day, like they did on 9/11.

On the next intersection a sea of people had gathered in jubilation. The collective relief that was being exhibited felt like a revolution had unseated a tyrant. The psychological tyranny inflicted had come to an end. A woman walked past me and said “ finally I can breathe.” A weight had been lifted that could only be expressed through ecstatic joy. I felt I was standing at a significant moment in time.

Even though the shock of realizing that the needle had barely moved and millions more had decided to support an abhorrent agenda than last time will never be completely overcome, watching my fellow city dwellers joyous helped lift my spirits.

This day was not the day to dwell on the past or the future. It was a day to be in the moment. To feel hopeful. To feel that there is a vast humanity out there that respects character and rewards all that is good and vital in a time of catastrophe.

Standing in Brooklyn I knew I was a part of a global sigh of relief. It felt as though a planetary hostage crisis had come to an end.

While a majority of America was relieved by the historic turn of events, there was a sizable number that was feeling the opposite.

Some quickly bought into the fast moving allegations that the election was stolen, rigged and fraudulent.

Conspiracy theories spread by the usual coterie of characters from the president down, began to gather steam in an already primed audience. Boorish men with guns and loud protesters with garish flags were quickly summoned to disturb the peace and scare the honest poll workers hard at work.

While I write this, those beliefs are still running strong fueled by a leader who refuses to accept the truth and is in denial. He will probably continue on this path to defile our sacred democratic process, that put him in a place of such immense power. As long as there are people enabling and applauding him to do so, Donald Trump will have no problem trampling over all that is considered sacrosanct.

If the Democrats would have lost, the mood would be grim and probably there would be some disdain for the system and anger in the streets. Especially after the kind of divisiveness and poison that has been sown into our psyche for years.

If the process would have been as transparent as it has been, Joe Biden in his decency would have been the first to concede and make the same speech he made in victory. Calling for unity, civility, reconciliation, humility and peace.

There lies the irrefutable difference between the one who should be leading and the one leaving.

Bill Maher in his wisdom, played on the phrase “civil war”, as the thought of one ensuing is still real, judging by the president’s rhetoric and behavior. He said Republicans do not know how to be “civil” and Democrats do not know how to go to “war” and therefore Americans need to resign to living with each other despite the rifts and divisions exploited by politicians hungry for power.

Despite all the olive branch offerings there will always be those who will call this a “stolen election” until the next one comes around. As they have nothing else left to go on. All the narratives they so deftly engineered to brainwash America, in the end did not bare fruit. They only left a deep and wide gash and galvanized the beholden to bring more to the tent.

The Republican campaign’s singular achievement will be the record crowd they were able to mine to the polls without a platform, policy manifesto or a menu of accomplishments for an incumbent leader.

“Make America Great Again” a rebranded hollow slogan from 2016, with little merit to back it, was enough for people to be energized. This is how populism works.

In desperation the enablers have signed on to go along with the president in his shameless behavior. The attorney general, his most loyal “man-Friday”, has announced investigations. The sycophant senators have refused to congratulate the winner. And the baseless legal battles are bound to go on putting the nation in peril.

The word “grace” does not exist in the mind of Donald Trump. Humility is a concept he does not grasp. He made it very apparent more than once and continues to by his conduct, that democracy is an idea he can endorse only if it favors him.

History will decide the fate of Donald Trump. It will determine whether he was an anomaly or an aberration. It will also cast a verdict on his voters and ardent supporters for this moment in time.

Joe Biden proclaimed often during the campaign that this election was a battle for America’s soul. It was clear on election night, that that battle was far from over. That battle will never be won as long as cancer permeates through the media distorting and destroying the truth.

In the meantime, for the moment, a path to the restoration of America may have opened. At least that is the hope.

If not anything, civility will certainly return in 2021 to the highest office in the land. And if this election was just about a “reset” to empathy and decency, it was a battle worth fought and won.



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Anand Kamalakar

Anand Kamalakar is a Brooklyn based documentary film director, producer and editor. His latest film SALAM can now be seen on Netflix.